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Shammyrock: An Entangled Sea Lion Gets a Lucky Break

Shammyrock, a young sea lion that stranded just before St. Patrick’s Day, was entangled in so much fishing line that he couldn’t even move his head. Lucky for him, The Marine Mammal Center came to the rescue just in time.

April 10, 2014

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Sea lions Shammyrock and Apollo are carried to the beach at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes. Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Gale Loescher (left) and Brook Barman (right) release Shammyrock from his crate. Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Shammyrock is finally free! Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Shammyrock heads toward the water, with Apollo following. Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Shammyrock and Apollo race to the surf as elephant seals lounge on the beach behind them. Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Apollo wins by a nose! Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Shammyrock finally reaches the water. Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

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Shammyrock looks back as another sea lion pal heads out to sea to join him. Hannah Ehlenbach © The Marine Mammal Center

Shammyrock’s recovery began as soon as the fishing line wrapped around his head and neck was removed. But it took several weeks for him to gain back the weight he lost while unable to feed.

Once our veterinary staff determined that he had gained enough weight and his wounds were healing well on their own, Shammyrock was given clearance for release back to his ocean home.

Shammyrock was released at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore along with several other California sea lions. Once all the animals had been returned to the wild and the animal release crew began to drive away, they spotted the group of sea lions playing together in the waves, happy to be home again.

March 26, 2014

Shammyrock, a sea lion pup, was entangled in fishing line when he was rescued.


Shammyrock’s “before” picture is gruesome. The green monofilament fishing line wrapped around this juvenile sea lion’s head and neck is cutting into his skin, causing a bloody, open wound. Every movement of his head caused the line to cut in even deeper. He is thinner than he should be—malnourished because he hadn’t been able to catch fish since he became entangled.

What the photo doesn’t show is that Shammyrock was trembling with pain when he was picked up, says Geno DeRango, The Marine Mammal Center’s stranding coordinator. In order to rescue the suffering animal, Geno and his team of trained volunteers had to scramble over slippery rocks at Breakwater Cove in Monterey, California.

Once Shammyrock was safely transported to the Center’s triage facility in Moss Landing, Geno cut the line around Shammyrock’s neck, freeing his head. Shammyrock was given fluids, pain medication and a tube feeding.

Once stabilized for transport, he was transferred to The Marine Mammal Center’s Sausalito hospital, where our veterinarians cleaned and treated his wounds. Since then, our animal care experts have been closely monitoring him for infection while volunteers feed him frequent meals to help him gain weight.

Although the image of Shammyrock’s entanglement is especially shocking, unfortunately this type of injury is not uncommon. Over the last few decades, the Center has rescued many patients suffering from the effects of severe entanglements in ocean trash, including Pua, another sea lion on-site right now due to an entanglement in monofilament fishing line.

The good news is that Shammyrock seems to be improving. His caregivers report that he is an eager and fast eater, sometimes even stealing fish from the other sea lions in his pen. This competitive behavior is a good indicator that Shammyrock will do well if he’s able to return to the wild.

But before Shammyrock can rejoin his sea lion friends at sea, he must first regain his strength and return to a healthy weight. Like many of the seals and sea lions we rescue, Shammyrock arrived at our hospital malnourished and starving. This juvenile sea lion needs a lot of fish to fuel his growing body—an adult male California sea lion can weigh over 800 pounds!

Shammyrock was completely entangled in netting.

Give Shammyrock the Fish
He Needs

You can help feed Shammyrock and the many other seals and sea lions under our care. These animals must grow healthy and strong before they can return to the wild, and the fish our patients need costs about a dollar a pound.

You can help feed our patients by supporting our Dollar-a-Pound Campaign. Shammyrock needs more than luck if he’s going to survive in the wild after his unlucky run-in with a fishing net.

A gift of fish will help ensure he gets a second chance at life.



Learn about: California sea lions

Join the campaign to Stop Trashing our Oceans

Learn how you can: Get Involved to Help Marine Mammals!


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